In every group there are three kinds of believers. There is the elect, the fellow with the ability and desire to make full use of his gift, and who will achieve. There's the chap who makes like he is gifted and has a desire to be a Christian, accountant, mechanic, or computer programmer. He's a worker. He gives the impression that if any of his group is going to succeed, he's the one. But he doesn't last to the finish. The nature of the seed is revealed when it reaches maturity; he was not ordained to be a Christian, accountant, mechanic, programmer or whatever it life he was impersonating. Thirdly, there's the unbeliever.
Now we find these three classes of people in our churches and in Message circles no less than among denominationals. And often they are among the ministry who lead the unbelievers; those who follow the letter zealously but are without the Spirit or revelation of the hour. Whilst they feign call you `brother' and enquire as to what is happening in your ministry, their purpose is really to entrap you. There are no bowels of compassion and though they make circular enquiry, when asked a direct question they are silent.
How I could cry, but the many tears remaining do not flow freely in face of such hardness of heart. As God put enmity between the children of Adam and the physical seed of the Serpent, He has placed the same enmity between the Sons of God and spiritual Serpent's seed.
Now last week we spoke on the truth and the lie, and we saw how darkness and Light both bring forth children. This week, we're going to study the fruit of darkness and of light in an episode in the life of Jesus. As it is today, so was it then. In our opening Scripture we see the motive and objective of the Pharisees was hypocritical. They pretended concern for Christ's safety but had prepared a plan to ensnare Him. Israel did not regard Him as a man, let alone recognize Him as their Messiah.
Luke 13:31-35, `The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto Him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill Thee. And He said unto them, "Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord".'
Jesus was not concerned for their hypocrisy, his personal security, or the traps set by these individuals. He was focused on the `big picture'. These were opinion-leaders, law-makers who had established themselves as the conscience of the nation. They were `politically correct' but their carnal works and legalism had made the Word of God of no effect to themselves or their disciples such that the House of Israel was desolate having failed to receive the manifested Word. One more text.
Hebrews 3:12-15, `Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation'.
Yes, TODAY is the day of salvation. If God shines some Light or reproval in your direction, heed it while it is called `today'. Who knows whether tomorrow will come for you or I? Yesterday is past, we cannot influence it and if our tomorrow doesn't come, we may be shipwrecked for having put-off what we might have done today. Today is the only time we have in our control.
In teaching tonight, we will be reading from Luke 14 and Matthew 22. So let's open our Bibles at Luke 14:1. `And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the CHIEF PHARISEES to eat bread on the SABBATH DAY, that they WATCHED Him'.
After service Jesus was invited home by one of the most respected elders of the denomination called the Pharisees. Any guest, should be put at ease as is the duty of a host, particularly on a sabbath. In actuality, they sought to put Him off His guard for the purposes of entrapment.
Now the Pharisees were formalists, the most important of the three main Jewish denominations. The word `Pharisee' means `separated'. Like most Jews, they supplemented the WRITTEN Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai with the ORAL law, which they claim was given simultaneously. It contains traditions and explanations or interpretations of the WRITTEN Law, and came at length to be esteemed far above the sacred text. Called the Mishna, it forms the first part of the Talmud (codified and compiled AD 500. There is an excellent English translation of the Mishna by Danby, and if you really wish to know what most Jews believe, you will receive a real education by referring to the Soncino official English translation of the Babylonian Talmud. You will be shocked).
Jesus called the Pharisees `lawyers' because they expounded and thereby multiplied minute precepts and distinctions to such an extent that the whole life of the Israelite was bound and burdened on every side by these instructions so numerous and trifling that they eclipsed and smothered the Law.
As these traditions accumulated through the centuries, the Law of God which was meant as a guide to life, was overridden by the formalistic commandments of man. It was a leading aim of Christ to direct men away from form and OUTWARD observances to the substance generated by an INSIDE relationship with God through faith. The Pharisees, on the other hand, strove to be seen by men to be acting-out their legalism. Jesus summed-up the whole spirit of Pharisaism, not in confession of sin and humility, but in a proud self-righteousness at variance with any true conception of man's relation to God or his fellow creatures.
For all their pretense to piety, they were in reality avaricious, sensual and dissolute. Finally, instead of endeavoring to fulfill the great end of the dispensation whose truths they professed to teach, and thus bringing men to the Hope of Israel, they devoted their energies to converting men to their own narrow views.
Here ALSO stand the Gentile denominations of THIS day. Legalistic, bound by traditions, and having usurped God's Word by their creeds, unable to recognize what God is doing to call out and prepare His Bride for the rapture, are busy justifying their own existence by carnal works, making Satan's Eden here on earth. It must be said, however, that like the Pharisees, there are in today's denominations, many formal believers who are upright and pure and live frugal lives as Nicodemus, Gamaliel, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Paul of old.
Now these Pharisees were WATCHING Jesus like a hawk. It was the sabbath, and they had set a trap for Him. (Could it be said that THEY were guilty of working on the sabbath?) An innocent man with a genuine need had been encouraged in his faith at the prospect of being brought to the famous Jesus of Nazareth for healing. He had the dropsy, and was deliberately positioned where Jesus must confront him, and be faced with the decision whether or not to heal on the sabbath.
`And, BEHOLD (Jesus recognizes their trap), there was a certain man BEFORE Him which had the dropsy'. Jesus was questioned, `Will You or will You not heal this sick man'? Taking up the challenge, He answered with a counter question; their silent reply betrays their ill-faith.
`And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers (those learned in the Law of Moses) and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day"? AND THEY HELD THEIR PEACE. And He took him, and healed him, and let him go'. The sick man was obviously not an invited guest, or Jesus would not have sent him away. Brother Branham said, `Jesus was a gentleman'. In consideration for the sick man's faith, and for the dignity of his host, it is not until AFTER the departure of the patient that He corrected His enemies.
`And answered them, saying, "Which of you shall have a SON or only an ox fallen into a WELL, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day"? And they could not answer Him again to these things'.
What could they reply? They had shamed themselves. The deceitfulness and the hypocrisy of their invitation was exposed. They claimed to be the teachers of God's Law and had fallen into their own trap, exposed by the Law they claimed to expound.
Jesus proceeds to give His fellow guests a lesson in humility in the deepest sense of the Word. `And He put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when He marked how they chose out the chief rooms'. Jesus now proceeds to rebuke them but also gravely warn them in a parable of the Wedding Supper. Thus far they have feigned hospitality as hypocrites and deceitfully used the sick man and Jesus - NOT to glorify God but to justify their own false piety. Jesus had been invited as principal guest only to humble and ridicule Him, choosing to honor themselves. They disregarded the etiquette of hospitality, dishonored the faith of the sick man and the integrity of Jesus, sacrificing them to their form of godliness that denied the faith.
Luke 14:8-11, `When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, "Friend, go up higher": then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted'.
Brother Branham spoke of a young preacher who bounced up to the platform full of confidence. But his message was so intellectual the Pentecostals couldn't understand what he was saying. When he saw it wasn't received, he was humbled. One old preacher said to another, `If he'd have gone up the way he came down, he'd have come down the way he went up'.
Now Jesus turned to his host and began to drive the point home. However the attitude and behavior of the host and his friends typified the attitude and conduct of Israel as a nation. They considered themselves the `chosen people' to the exclusion of all other peoples on whom they looked with disdain. In fact Israel was chosen ONLY to be a light or example to the Gentiles, to make them aspire to the blessings of serving God, and to show them the way into Covenant relationship. So there was a deeper meaning and warning in this parable, for God's Covenant with Israel was CONDITIONAL.
Luke 14:12-13 `Then said He also to him that bade him, "When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind".' What a stinging rebuke! He commends His host to emulate His example in this prophecy which lays a framework for His yet sterner reproach of verses 16-24 and perfectly conforms with the prophets who foretold by the Holy Spirit, Israel would reject their invitation to God's Supper. For those who were Spiritual, Jesus is revealing that Messiah has not principally invited such as were related to Him after the flesh, and from whom He might hope recompense again to His Wedding Supper.
The `Invitation' is by grace through FAITH, not works. These Pharisees were trying to EARN God's pleasure by their much fasting, tithings and ablutions, etc. But man cannot make God his debtor. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
The Spiritually poor, blind, etc., whom Israel accounted outcasts and dogs - the Gentiles - were those who in the foreknowledge of God, would be principally invited.
`And Thou shalt be BLESSED; for they cannot RECOMPENSE thee: for Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just'. Gentiles who were once outcast by those who claimed to be the `chosen people', will BLESS the Lord Jesus at the first Resurrection and judgment seat of Christ for His grace to us. For THIS reason EVERY knee shall bow. Christ now has joy to the full in the kingdom of the Father, and a Name that is above every name.
Revelation 5:8-14, `And when He had taken the Book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, "Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the Seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth".
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing".
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever". And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever'.
Those who THOUGHT they were EXCLUDED, we Gentiles, are to be His Bride. No wonder Christ is BLESSED forever; the promises WERE to Israel. `Grace, grace', the capstone cried. Pure unmerited favor, for which we cannot ever repay our Lord. Through their unbelief Israel was cut out of the Olive tree, and we were grafted in. Read Romans 11.
`And when one of them that sat at meat with Him heard these things, (and wishing to end Jesus' rebuke and preserve his host from further discomfort before his fellows) he said unto Him, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God".' Jesus will not be silenced, and responds in effect, `Yes, but what benefit is the blessedness of the Invitation to those who refuse to take it up'?
Brother Branham said there are always three pulls in any great ministry for the `rainbow trout' who will be the elect or Bride of Christ. At the end of the Gentile dispensation, the Holy Spirit fell in Russia where it was rejected; next it fell in England and was rejected by the churches. Finally in the USA. In this parable the first pull is for those who were invited.
Here is the parable: `A certain man made a great supper, and bade many (that's Israel): And sent His servant (Jesus) at supper time to say to them that were bidden, "Come; for all things are now ready". (Had Israel received his invitation, the Wedding Supper could have taken place). And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come'.
According to Eastern custom, one servant repeats the invitation as soon as the feast is prepared to inform the guests when they should appear. (We have witnessed this again in the ministry of Brother Branham, in our day. Read Matthew 25:6 and Revelation 19:7-10). Although Israel and the guests at the home of the Pharisee did not realize it, Jesus was doing just that. He was advertising to Israel that the blessings of the kingdom of heaven are ready (at hand) for them and they have nothing further to do than to come, to take, and to eat (Revelation 22:17; 10:9; 20:9).
In acknowledging the necessity of a plausible excuse, those invited establish the fact that they were under an obligation to appear. Their excuses are not in earnest because Israel was invited to the Feast 1900 years earlier, when God made promise to Abraham (Genesis 12). And being forewarned long in advance they should have chosen another day to attend to their worldly affairs. Clearly, many are called, but few are chosen.
Now the second pull was for the poor, maimed, halt and blind OF THE CITY - the lowest classes of Jewish society - publicans and sinners. `So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind". (`Go out quickly', because the labor of grace among the sinners of Israel was limited to a brief transition). And the servant said, "Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room".' (`It is done'! On the other hand, the calling of the Gentiles was to extend over almost 2,000 years).
The third pull is for the Gentiles.
`And the lord said unto the servant, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and COMPEL them to come in, that my house may be filled".'
Hedges were used as fences to enclose properties. Beneath them vagrants squatted. Those in highways and hedges were those with no Spiritual home - `without the camp' excluded from Jewish society - the Gentiles.
The phrase, `compel them to come in' implies a people who would long for salvation and desire to enter but are yet kept back by a false timidity because the Jews had MADE them outcasts. `Those who are afar off'. Peter speaking by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost said `The Promise is unto you (Jews) and to your children (Jews), to those who are afar off (Gentiles), even as many as the lord our God shall ever call (both Jews and Gentiles'. So the servant is to push them, in a manner of speaking, into the house, in spite of their scruples.
In the tent vision, Brother Branham compared these Scriptures in Luke 13-14 with the lame, halt, and crippled of this day - those with Christ without the denominational camp. Christ pushed or compelled them into the Presence for the manifestation of the Sons of God and the body change (Visions and Prophecy, 17-19; Seals, 449:1 - 450:4). For us this will not a public show as the Pentecostals had it. The manifestation of the Bride's spoken Word will be an absolutely an individual experience for her alone, to raise her faith to a place where she can change in the atoms. At this time there will be no purpose in a `public show' for the days of grace will have ended for this world.
The Pharisees also had `a public show' of the Supernatural but when the third pull came, they were themselves without the camp of God. `For I say unto you, "That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper".'
2,000 years ago, Jesus repeated Israel's invitation to the feast. Turn with me now to Matthew 22:8, `Then saith he to his servants, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy".' They made excuses, turned It down, and went into judgment and disgrace. Those who reject His Invitation by the seventh angel will be accursed of God. Our God exults the humble and abases the proud.
Matthew 22:9-10, `Go ye therefore into the HIGHWAYS, and as many as you shall find, bid to the Marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, BOTH BAD AND GOOD: and the Wedding was furnished with guests'.
Praise the Lord, who does not look to outward formalism and ritual, or physical things man can do to appear unto other men to be serving Him. It is wholly by grace through faith. Faith alone. The grace of God takes care of ALL of our past, whether we were `good' like the Pharisees', or `bad' like me, we cannot place Him in our debt by earning our place with the just. ALL of our WORKS whether good or bad, are cast into the sea of God's forgetfulness. I'm glad of that. That gives me a little more confidence, because as I look back over my shoulder into my past life there is nothing of which I can boast.
There is a hymn which goes,
`Jesus paid it all; All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow'.
Matthew 22:11-14, `And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, "Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment"? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen".'
The man at the door was the one closest to the Groom. He handed a caftan to each of the guests as they entered. Rich, poor, short or tall - all were dressed alike by the angel to their Age. When WE enter in THIS day, we must have on the same Garment of righteousness Paul had on at the beginning (Malachi 4:5-6).
Hence, when the king saw a man without the baptism of the Holy Ghost - a clear revelation of the Word for HIS day, he knew he had entered by his own intelligence and NOT by Christ, the door. Jesus said, `Many will come to Me in that day and say, "Lord, Lord, in Your Name I spoke with other tongues, in Your Name I believed the Message and listened to the tapes of your prophet". But I will say, be gone from Me, you dealers in INIQUITY, I know you not as my Bride. Into the tribulation with you. You may appeal at the White Throne Judgment'.
`For MANY are called, but few are chosen'. In Luke 14, Israel were the `many', few of whom were chosen. There was not merely a `difference' between the many and the few but an ANTITHESIS. We dwelt upon the enmity between the carnal and Spiritual churches early in our sermon.
Luke 14:25, `And there went GREAT MULTITUDES with Him (MANY): and He turned, and said unto them' in effect, `You're following Me to Jerusalem as if we were going to a party. You must forsake all things dearest your heart and carry your own cross if you want to be my disciples'.
`If any man COME TO ME, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, (or love them less than Me), he cannot be My DISCIPLE. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, CANNOT be my disciple'.
If there is revelation, `Come to Me' as an outward attachment, develops into `be My disciple', having absolute dependence. You'll note the word `disciple' is singular, for we have an individual walk with Him or we have no walk at all. Unlike the affected separation of the Pharisees, this is a separation from the world and complete yielding of SELF Paul described in I Corinthians 7:1-5: `It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency'.
Ephesians 5:22-25, `Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it'.
These Scriptures compare the yielding of SELF in the natural marriage as Christ requires us to yield self in the Spiritual. Even as He yielded His Own life for us. Paul commences by stating `it is good for a man not to touch a woman (and likewise for a woman to remain separate)', then he shows through the marriage union how two become as one flesh under submission to oneanother, each preferring the partner for mutual benefit of the union. A total commitment.
Luke 14:28-30, `For which of you, intending to build a tower, (sumptuous building like the Tower of Babel, or palace requiring more than ordinary resources) sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, "This man began to build, and was not financially able to finish".'
Jesus is warning those who would follow Him not to start lightly on this journey but to carefully assess their ability to see it through to its conclusion, for each one of them will have his own cross to bear, and there is no ridicule so great as that for an avowed believer who fails to meet his commitment. For `no man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God' (Luke 9:62). He has no hope in this world or in the world to come (Matthew 12:32).
Our journey with Christ is somewhat like Christopher Columbus' adventure - if we have faith, we will succeed AND discover great riches in the New World. If we fail, we will fall off the edge of the world and perish, or if we draw back from the adventure and return, Queen Isabella will sever our heads from our bodies. The Christian armour only provides protection for the valiant. There is no provision for retreat.
The building we are preparing is the stature of the perfect man. It is a house of character, made only by victory over our spirit and flesh as we separate from the love of the world and the things of the world and die daily, yielding ourselves to God.
`Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace'. The king must determine that he will be victorious in battle, or make peace with his enemy whilst he can negotiate from a position of strength, or perish in battle or at the hands of his won people.
Each Christian is a king engaged in a struggle with an enemy materially stronger than himself and must commit himself completely to the battle. The Bible says, `For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places' (Ephesians 6:12). This enemy has access to material riches. We must not allow him to control our piece of turf; this mortal spirit and rotting flesh we inhabit. To rule our little kingdoms, we must make a total commitment.
`So likewise, whosoever he be of you that FORSAKETH not ALL that he hath, he cannot be My disciple'.
Like the builder or the king, those who fail to attain to the high calling of Christ become as wholly unusable as salt that has lost its savour, and is good for nothing, not even fertilizer, and is thrown out.
`Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear'.
So if you would follow Jesus and be His disciple - first count the cost and measure your willingness to give a total commitment. `Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul' (Hebrews 10:38-39). bb950505.htm
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